US-China trade deal doubts creep into markets

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7 November 2019


Safe-havens gained, while emerging market currencies sold-off on Wednesday on expectations that the yet to be ratified ‘phase one’ trade agreement between the US and China may have to wait until December before signed off.

iven that the trade spat between the two countries has dragged on longer-than-expected, littered with delays and postponements, news of another setback is far from a surprising one. Yet, with the 15th December date for the implementation of additional tariffs fast approaching, investors are beginning to fret that a formal written agreement may not be in place in time to avoid the aforementioned tariffs coming to pass.

The main EUR/USD pair was actually relatively rangebound yesterday, despite the trade news. Euro bulls did have at least some reason to be optimistic, with an upward revision to the October services PMI and a better-than-expected set of retail sales data suggesting that the outlook for the bloc’s economy is not all doom and gloom.

Investors far from got carried away with the news, possibly due to Germany’s apparent reluctance to provide fiscal stimulus to the country’s ailing economy. Referring to the German government’s ability to ramp up spending, finance minister Olaf Scholz stated yesterday ‘they are able to act if there’s a crisis but there isn’t’.

BoE set to hold rates, but will the vote be unanimous?

Sterling eased back off its highest level in five months ahead of this afternoon’s Bank of England announcement.

While the release of the bank’s statement, minutes and quarterly Inflation Report is ordinarily coyned as ‘Super Thursday’, today could be anything but should policymakers maintain their fairly neutral stance with regards to the next policy move. We do note, however, that with the striking of a Brexit deal still not yet a foregone conclusion and given that economic data out of the UK has largely undershot expectations in the past month or so, there is a risk that Governor Carney takes on a slightly more dovish tilt.

No one expects rates to be cut at today’s meeting, although it will be interesting to see whether any voting members on the committee dissent in favour of lower rates. Odds are that the decision will remain unanimous, with a surprise dissent or two among the MPC likely to trigger a knee-jerk sell-off in the pound this afternoon.

The Bank of England will be releasing its policy statement and announcing its rate decision at midday UK time today, with Carney’s press conference to follow around half an hour later.